Tag Archives: almonds

Green Bean Pilaf with Toasted Almonds, Pine Nuts and Raisins

8 Apr

I’ve decided to go on a detox diet for a month to see if I can lose some weight. It means no meat (obviously), eggs, dairy, wheat, sugar or alcohol for a month. My friend has lent me a Carol Vorderman detox book that has some good recipes in it that I am using as a base to work from. They are all quite basic in the flavour department so I will be amping up the spices to make sure every dish is delicious and full of flavour as well as healthy. I don’t want it to feel like I am on a diet or that I am being deprived and I definitely don’t want the food to be boring in any way.

I started about a week ago and I am definitely noticing a difference. I feel less bloated, lighter and less hungry, which is surprising. This is my breakfast smoothie that I am having every day. It is one or two crushed ice cubes blended with 1 banana, 5 or 6 strawberries, a big slice of pineapple, the juice of half an orange and a handful of oats. It is a lovely way to start the day and keeps me full until lunchtime which is great because I walk/jog 4.5km every morning with the dog.

This was my first vegan gluten-free meal, as you can see there is a little bit of crumbled Feta on the top, but that was the last of it I promise… Well I’m not promising anything really. That’s too much pressure and there is an amazing vegetarian “Scotch Egg” & piccalilli recipe that I am desperate to try. The only thing I am promising is that there will never be a boring, tasteless, bland recipe on this blog so don’t worry. I have plenty of exciting South American, South East Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian recipes up my sleeve that you wouldn’t even know were detox, so here we go…

Green Bean Pilaf with Almonds, Pine Nuts & Raisins

serves 4, vegan & gluten-free without the Feta. Adapted from Carol Vorderman’s Detox Recipes

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced in half lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 300 gr wholegrain (brown) rice
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 225 gr green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 30 gr pine nuts
  • 30 gr flaked almonds
  • 50 gr raisins (I used moscatel they are bigger & juicier)
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped plus leaves for garnish
  • a handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • greek feta (optional)

Toast the pine nuts and almonds in a dry frying pan, shaking occasionally until browned. Don’t take your eyes off of them or they will burn. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until softened but not browned then add in the garlic and cook for a minute more.

Add the coriander, cumin and rice and cook, stirring for a minute until the grains are glossy. Add the veg stock and the raisins and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid is almost absorbed and the rice is nearly cooked. Add the green beans, salt, pepper,stir, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes until the beans and rice are cooked. Stir through the chopped herbs, taste and serve sprinkled with the toasted almonds, pine nuts, a few parsley leaves and some crumbled feta (if using).

Wholegrain rice provides fibre, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and iron that white rice does not. Leeks and onions are rich in allyl sulphides which are protective against heart disease and cancer as well as providing folate and vitamin C. Pine nuts & almonds provide protein & calcium and are super-rich in heart healthy vitamin E and monounsaturated oils.

All that and it tastes great too, enjoy!!

Chermoula Halloumi, Butter Bean Tagine and Quinoa with Almonds and Raisins

25 Mar

This started out a s a recipe in the Terre a Terre vegetarian cookbook for Halloumi & Almond Kibbeh. Kibbeh are usually made with ground meat, spices and bulgur wheat shaped into balls or patties. The Terre a Terre version uses a mixture of ground almonds, halloumi, cream cheese, tofu and Chermoula spices to make the pattie mix which were then wrapped in thin aubergine slices and cooked.  Chermoula is a Moroccan/North African spice blend normally used as a rub or marinade for fish and meat.

This Chermoula spice mix (there are many variations) is made from toasted coriander, fennel and cumin seeds ground together and mixed with sumac (a dried, ground berry with a lemony, smokey flavour) and salt. You can use it dry for seasoning dishes or mix it with olive oil, lemon juice & garlic for a delicious marinade or dressing.  Okay, so I made the kibbeh without the tofu (I have a pathelogical dislike of tofu that I need to overcome). I really didn’t like the resulting texture I found them dry and quite heavy and after a lot of work too! Luckily I had made quite a lot of the bean tagine and quinoa so for lunch the next day I just pressed some sliced Halloumi into the Chermoula spices and dry fried them as I usually would for my favourite Halloumi recipe. So much easier! The Chermoula makes a perfect spice crust for my favourite salty, meaty cheese which could be served with the just the bean tagine or just the quinoa salad if you don’t want to make everything. The flavours are really complex and work fantastically together.

Another ingredient used in this dish is preserved lemons. Preserved lemons are a key ingredient in Moroccan cuisine. The preserved lemon peel is chopped and used to impart an intensely lemony flavours to soups, stews, tagines and many other dishes. The lemons are preserved in a mixture of lemon juice, salt and occasionally spices. I made my own because I had a mountain of lemons in my kitchen. It seemed like the perfect thing to do with them as I love all Middle Eastern cuisine. I used Spicie Foodie’s recipe which was really easy and now I am the very proud owner of a jar of  homemade preserved lemons. Who would have thought it?

At it’s narrowest point the southern coast of Spain is only about 8 miles from Morocco across the Atlantic. This means that it has a similar climate and a lot of the ingredients used are the same as in Andalucian cuisine. I was inspired to make this dish because a lot of the ingredients used I see growing while walking the dog. The almond blossom has now disappeared to reveal the young green nut and the oranges are still everywhere although coming to the end of their season.

 The quinoa salad could easily be made with bulgur wheat or couscous instead and feel free to substitute pistachios for almonds or olives for the raisins. Just use what you have, within reason, obviously. I’m not advocating the use of chocolate chips here but now that I’ve said it, it might make an interesting dessert…..

Chermoula Halloumi, Butter Bean Tagine & Quinoa with Almonds & Raisins

Serves 4 with leftovers, vegetarian. Adapted from Terre a Terre The Vegetarian Cookbook

For the Chermoula Halloumi

  • 2 packs Halloumi cheese, rinsed & sliced into 1/3 cm slices
  • 25 gr coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Toast all the seeds until fragrant and grind them in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder. Mix them with the sumac & salt and store in an airtight container. When ready to cook the halloumi, sprinkle about 4 tbsp of the spice mix onto a shallow dish and press your halloumi slices into it to coat on both sides. To cook the halloumi heat a non stick frying pan to hot without any oil and dry fry the slices for a minute or so on each side until lightly browned. Serve with the butter bean tagine and/or the quinoa salad.

For the Butter Bean Tagine

  • 1 jar/tin cooked butter beans 400 gr, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 or 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (or saffron)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 orange, zested then juiced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp preserved lemon peel, finely chopped (or use lemon zest)
  • 1 tin 400 gr chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste (or 1/4 tsp crushed dried chillis)
  • 100 ml veg stock
  • 1 tsp salt +
  • a handful of coriander leaves for garnish
  • olive oil to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large pan with a lid or casserole/tagine over a medium heat. Add the shallots, onion and red pepper and cook for about 3 minutes until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add in the cinnamon, ginger, turmeric/saffron, star anise and black pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.

Stir in all the remaining ingredients except the coriander & olive oil, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Either leave it to cook in a pan on the stove top or, if you are using a tagine or casserole, put on the lid and put it in a 170C oven for the same amount of time.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Remove the star anise and use it again for the quinoa. Stir in some of the fresh coriander ad serve garnished with the rest of the coriander leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Or serve topped with the Chermoula Halloumi slices.

For the Quinoa with Almonds & Raisins

  • about 150 gr quinoa (or bulgur or couscous)
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • the star anise from the tagine above
  • 60 gr raisins or sultanas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 tbsp preserved lemon peel, finely chopped (or use lemon zest)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 80 gr toasted almonds (whole)
  • 50 gr toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tsp Chermoula spice mix (see recipe above)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  •  a handful of fresh parsley chopped
  •  a handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook the quinoa/bulgur/couscous according to the instructions on the packet. I use stock rather than water for more flavour. Put the raisins/sultanas in the hot stock as well to plump up aswell as the star anise. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add in the shallots and fry until soft and sweet, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the preserved lemon peel (or zest) and cinnamon, stir, then pour over the cooked quinoa, season with the chermoula spice mix, salt & pepper and mix well. This can now be refrigerated until 15 minutes before serving when you take it out to come up to room temperature.

Serve at room temperature. Shortly before serving stir through the nuts, chopped herbs, lemon juice and check the seasoning. Serve topped with the Chermoula halloumi or on the side off the ButterBean Tagine.

I had quite a lot of the quinoa leftover so I also made a nice salad  for lunch with some rocket leaves dressed with olive oil & lemon juice . I just topped it off with some crumbled feta. Delicious….

  Enjoy!!

Father’s Day Florentines with Chocolate, Ginger and Cranberries

19 Mar

Today is Father’s Day in Spain. Even though I live in Spain and my Dad lives in Cape Town I still do the British father’s day in June for some reason. My Dad loves Florentines and I found this recipe with some beautiful photos here this week and just had to have a go at them.

Today we went to see our friends Andrew & Rafa. It was Andrew’s birthday this week so I took him some of these Florentines as a gift. I think they really liked them because we managed to eat them all and he posted a photo of them on Facebook.  Andrew writes a blog called Manana- The Andalucia Diary which is  a really informative insider’s guide to Andalucia and beyond. It includes loads of invaluable information about, where to stay, where to eat and places to visit as well as information about living and working in Southern Spain.

So Dad, here is your virtual Spanish Father’s Day gift, you would have really enjoyed them, but we ate them all sorry. I don’t think they would travel very well but you will be pleased to know that I was thinking of you as we were shoving them down our necks….!!

I have adapted the original recipe to include dried cranberries rather than dried cherries and I used crystallised ginger instead of candied peel as that was what I had (and my dad loves ginger). I used greek yoghurt rather than whipping cream, because I didn’t have any, and wholemeal rather than plain Italian 00 flour.

Florentines with Chocolate, Ginger & Cranberries

makes about 24, vegetarian. Adapted from Catalina Bakes

  • 50 gr butter
  • 65 ml whipping cream (I used greek yoghurt)
  • 115 gr sugar
  • 55 gr honey
  • 120 gr flaked almonds
  • 60 gr dried cranberries (or dried cherries, quartered)
  • 30 gr crystallised ginger chopped finely(or candied peel)
  • 40 gr wholemeal (or plain) flour
  • about 250 gr good quality dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Soak the cranberries in boiling water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile put the butter, cream/yoghurt, sugar & honey in a  small saucepan over a low heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 – 7 minutes, stirring constantly until a light golden butterscotch colour. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond flakes, chopped ginger and the soaked cranberries that have been dried with a clean tea towel.  Mix well then stir in the flour. You should have a sticky batter.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and drop teaspoons full of the mix on the sheets about 7 cm apart (They spread a lot).  Flatten them out a little with a spatula.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes until the edges are turning golden brown (the top sheet will cook quicker than the bottom sheet) then turn the oven down to 150C and bake for a further 4 or 5 minutes until the centre is golden as well (Don’t let the edges burn). Remove the top sheet of Florentines from the oven and swap the bottom sheet to the top if they need to brown a bit more but keep an eye on them.

Move the cooked Florentines on their baking paper to cool completely on a wire rack while you repeat with the rest of the mix.

When all the Florentines are cooked & cooled. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water. Spoon a tablespoon of chocolate on the flat back of each Florentine and spread it out to reach the edges.  Leave to cool chocolate side up while you do the rest. After a few minutes make wavy patterns in the chocolate with a fork and leave to cool completely.

Feliz Dia del Padre Dad! I promise I’ll make you some when I come over…..xx

Panforte- Italian Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Cake

8 Feb

I know I’ve shown you pictures of the almond blossom before but I couldn’t resist showing you this one with the snow on the Sierra de las Nieves in the background. Sierra de las Nieves means  The Snowy Mountains…..

This picture was taken in Guaro while we were checking on a friend’s house there. This is the view from the end of the drive. Spectacular isn’t it. You can see why it’s called Cortijo de las Nieves with that view….

These beautiful almond trees are everywhere you look at the moment. They reminded me of a recipe I found at Corridor Kitchen that I have been meaning to make since Christmas. Panforte is an Italian chocolate, fruit & nut cake served in little squares with espresso coffee at breakfast, in the afternoon or after dinner. It’s kind of like a dense nutty brownie fruit cake combination. Rich, sticky, chewy and delicious- it’s a grown up thing and you need to try it…

Lauren’s recipe included crystallised pineapple as her Aussie twist on the classic. In the absence of pineapple I used crystallised ginger which goes really well with the chocolate and orange zest and gives it more of that grown up feeling. If you don’t like ginger leave it out. The dried cranberries were another addition of mine just because I had some in the cupboard and they work with the other flavours….

Panforte Recipe

makes about 12 -14 small squares/slices, vegetarian

  • 125 gr almonds, roughly chopped
  • 125 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 60 gr stem ginger (crystallised or not) finely chopped
  • 60 gr dried cranberries (soaked for 15 minutes in boiling water) roughly chopped
  • 60 gr chopped mixed peel (I use the zest of 1 lemon & 1 orange)
  • 100 gr plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (good cocoa not hot chocolate powder)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or mixed spice)
  • 60 gr dark chocolate, chopped
  • 75 gr sugar
  • 175 gr honey

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Toast the almonds and hazelnuts in a dry pan if they are not toasted and coarsely chop. Sieve the flour, cinnamon and cocoa in to a large bowl and stir to combine. Add in the nuts, fruit, zest and ginger and stir again.

Melt the honey and sugar over a medium low heat, when just about to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until thick and syrupy, Take it off the heat, leave for one minute then tip in the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix everything together very well. It is a very stiff, sticky mass and quite hard on the arms but keep going it comes together eventually!

Line a 20cm cake tin or small baking tray with parchment paper, and cut another circle of parchment the same size as the tin. Tip the mixture into the tin, put the extra piece of parchment on top and press it down and spread it out until it is flat and even. Leave the parchment on the top and bake for about 35 minutes or until it has just lost its sheen.

Leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting into slices or squares with a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container.

 Feel free to substitute the cranberries for sultanas or use glace cherries instead. She recommends glace apricot as well as the glace pineapple. I think glace mango would be amazing with the chocolate too maybe with some macadamia nuts as well……….

Enjoy!!

Easy, Delicious Mince Pies with Mandarin and Ginger Cheat Ice Cream

17 Dec

I should rename this blog 101 things to do with a mandarin….! Well it is Christmas and they are everywhere and I like them.

I didn’t like mince pies until I made some myself, because the Washer Up was begging me to, last Christmas. The bought ones have a strange taste and make your teeth go funny. I thought, if I’m going to make them, I am going to make them better by adding all the Christmas flavours that I love. Like mandarins….

And almonds and hazelnuts and cranberries and Amaretto………! Trust me it makes such a difference. You get the flavour and crunch of the nuts, the sweet sharpness of the cranberries and the punch of the Amaretto. You don’t have to use Amaretto you could use Frangelico to pick out the flavour of the hazelnuts or Cointreau to enhance the orangeyness. If you don’t want to add alcohol you could use cranberry juice, you just need some liquid to soak into the dried fruit while it’s cooking. I use puff pastry because it’s lighter and crispier and you don’t have to make it!!If you’ve never liked mince pies you should give this recipe a go, it might change your mind..

Easy & Delicious Mince Pies Recipe

makes about 18, vegetarian

  • 1 pack frozen puff pastry defrosted in the fridge overnight
  • 75 gr brown sugar
  • 75 ml port or red wine
  • 400 gr mixed dried fruit
  • 100 gr dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 mandarin, zest first & then juice
  • about 50ml Amaretto (or your chosen liqueur)you may need to add more
  • a few drops of almond extract
  •  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • about 100 -150 gr chopped nuts (I used almonds & hazelnuts)walnuts would be good too
  • 1 egg beaten with a little water
  • icing sugar for dusting

In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the port or red wine over a gentle heat. Then add the dried fruits, cranberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, zest & juice of the mandarin and the Amaretto. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 15 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed stirring occasionally. You may need to add more amaretto if it is absorbed quickly. Add the almond & vanilla extracts, honey and the nuts. Stir well to combine everything and leave the mixture to cool in a bowl.

When the mixture is cool(very important or the pastry won’t work), preheat the oven to 210 degrees. Butter & flour your muffin tins then roll out your first piece of puff pastry to a thickness of 2mm (leave the other piece in the fridge). Cut out circles of 9 or 10 cm diameter and push them in the muffin tins you should get 9 or 10. Then fill each pastry case with a heaped dessertspoonful of the mixture. With the off cuts of pastry you can cut out Christmas tree shapes to put on the top of the mixture (or use a star cutter). Brush the pastry trees with egg wash and bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Keep an eye on them they cook quickly. Leave to cool for a few minutes then take them out of the tin. Leave the tin to cool down before rolling out your next batch.

Dust with icing sugar from a height and serve while still warm with a coffee for elevenses or whatever time of day it is…..To make them even more special you can serve them with this easy cheat ice cream. I don’t have an ice cream maker (hint hint!) so this is a great way to “improve” a tub of store-bought vanilla…

Quick Cheat Mandarin & Ginger Ice Cream

  • 1 tub of vanilla ice cream (doesn’t have to be full)
  • the zest of 1 or 2 mandarins
  • some crystallised ginger chopped finely (1 tbsp should be enough)

Take the ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften for about 5 minutes. It should be soft enough to stir but not melted. Stir in the zest and ginger until evenly distributed and put the ice cream back in the freezer to firm up until you are ready to serve it. How easy is that?

This ice cream is really good with the Mince Pies, would be a perfect accompaniment to Christmas Pudding and is also amazing with the Washer Up’s Rhubarb Crumble…Happy Christmas!!

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